Tackling is one of the most fundamental and crucial parts of the game of football, and the Atlanta Falcons haven’t been very good at it in recent years. So much so that head coach Mike Smith has instilled 10 new tackling drills that he hopes will solve the problem, according to ESPN.com.
Per the league’s collective bargaining agreement, there is no live contact allowed during offseason workouts, and only 14 padded practices during the regular season. So how is a team that is poor at tackling supposed to improve?
Smith decided that some new drills would be in order, and talked about it to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure.
“Well, we weren’t a very good tackling team last year. That was apparent. So one of our focuses in the offseason was ‘How can we improve our tackling without taking guys to the ground?’ And we’ve come up with a myriad of drills … gosh, probably 10.
“It’s very hard to simulate tackling. And we want to simulate the finish of the tackle. And when you simulate the finish, that’s when you’re taking guys to the ground, and you can’t do that. So we’re using dummies to do it.”
If you’ve watched much of the Falcons, particularly in 2013, you’ll understand why this is a point of focus for Smith. Atlanta was a quick getting to a ball carrier or receiver as anyone, but sloppy arm-tackles, and shoulder bumps gave opponents second, third and even sometimes fourth chances to pick up extra yardage.
So how are the rookies and veterans taking to these new drills?
“I think they’re taking to it very well, simply because they know the biggest element on the defensive side of the ball, the skill that you have to master, is getting the offensive players on the ground,” Smith said. “And we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be.